The Amazing Salmon Run!

Salmon jumping over waterfall swimming upstream.

The salmon run in Alaska is a huge migration that happens every summer. Thousands of salmon swim from the ocean up streams and rivers to spawn, or reproduce. One of the best places to experience a salmon run is in Alaska. Alaska has freshwater habitats of streams and rivers that feed into saltwater bays, and ultimately, the ocean.

Salmon are born in fresh water and live most of their lives in salt water. When they leave their nests to find food, salmon swim downstream and head to the ocean. Their bodies begin to change and go through a process called smoltification, which allows them to live in salt water. When salmon are mature and ready to breed, they leave the ocean and begin the journey back to fresh water. They return to the place where they hatched. They use their sense of smell to find their way home. Salmon travel hundreds of miles to build nests in riverbed gravel. Along the way, they are met with many obstacles. River rapids and waterfalls make it difficult to swim upstream. Fortunately, salmon are strong enough to jump over waterfalls. But, they do not all make it. Salmon have to avoid hungry predators like river otters, bald eagles, and especially, bears. The creation of man-made dams also affects the success of salmon migration. Dams prevent the salmon from swimming upstream. One solution to this problem is a salmon cannon. Scientists invented a way to launch pregnant fish over dams and into the water to continue their migration. The few salmon that survive the salmon run will lay thousands of eggs to continue the natural life cycle. The salmon run is an important part of Alaska’s ecosystem. People, animals, and the environment depend on the success of this amazing journey.

What Do You Think? What are some benefits of using a salmon cannon during a salmon run?

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